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Portland police to pay almost $700,000 to former official who wanted to defund the police during George Floyd riots
Photo by Ankur Dholakia / AFP

Portland police to pay almost $700,000 to former official who wanted to defund the police during George Floyd riots

The police union in Portland and two officers have reportedly agreed to pay the city's former commissioner $680,000 in a settlement after they leaked information that falsely implicated her in a hit-and-run incident.

Former commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty's lawsuit seeking $5 million was scheduled to go to trial this week. If the settlement had not been reached, a jury would have deliberated on whether the city's police had racially discriminated against Hardesty, a black woman who was a staunch defender of defunding the police during the 2020 riots following George Floyd's death.

The city of Portland settled its part in the lawsuit in August by paying $5,000 to Hardesty and providing a written apology from Mayor Ted Wheeler. The debacle was kicked off in March 2021 when someone called the police and mistakenly identified Hardesty as the driver who rear-ended her and quickly left the scene, per Fox News .

An officer with the Portland Police Bureau reportedly leaked information to an activist friend who subsequently shared the information he was told on a livestream, according to an internal review that was carried out last year. The inaccurate information was then leaked to a reporter by then-union president Brian Hunzeker.

Hardesty was soon cleared of all the charges, and Hunzeker stepped down from his post, which he only had for a few months. The union claimed that the debacle was not evidence of a widespread issue but that it was the result of a "serious, isolated mistake," according to the report.

Hardesty and the city's police apparently had a rocky relationship during her time as commissioner. She attempted to slash the police bureau's funding as the city experienced violent riots in 2020. However, the bureau's budget is now $20 million more than it was during the protests.

Hardesty apparently apologized in July 2020 for claiming that police "saboteurs" were deliberately starting fires and infiltrating the immense crowds of protesters and rioters that took over the streets of Portland for more than 100 nights.

She lost her re-election in November to Rene Gonzalez, a newcomer to politics, who ran as a centrist and supporter of law and order.

Hardesty initially wanted $3 million from the police association, $1 million from Hunzeker, and another $1 million from a separate police officer involved in the leak. The lawsuit argued that the information leaked was carried out in retaliation for her "years of opposing race discrimination" by the police bureau and union. However, it is unclear if any evidence was provided in support of her claims.

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